Monday, June 7, 2010

Adventures in France, Day 6

As I sit here, downloading the day's photos, part of me is like, "no way did all of this happen TODAY." But it did, kids. So strap in and enjoy the ride.

Thanks to this great web site, we set off this morning for a self-guided walking tour of Montmartre and Pigalle. I had spent a little time in the area before, but Scott never had. And with a truly perfect day on our hands -- a breezy, 70 degrees with plenty of shade -- it seemed like the right thing to do.

We started at the Blanche Metro stop and began the trek up the winding hills to the top of Montmartre. One of the very first shop windows we passed showcased jewel-like tartes that seemed too pretty to eat:

Next up was one of the two remaining windmills of Montmartre, which garnered a crowd as early as 10 AM:

And the last of the remaining grapevines in the city. Evidently they harvest these in October for a big festival:

The vineyard is directly across from a very famous cafe, which despite its tremendous tourist appeal, still manages to look charming:

We continued our climb toward Sacre-Coeur, where Scott took the quick tour while I took the obligatory photos outside:

From there, we wound our way down the thousands of stairs, past the colorful bar where I toasted my 30th birthday, and through Passages Verdeau, Jouffroy, and Panoramas. The passages were built in the 1800s and they make for a very interesting walk. In Panoramas, we stopped for lunch at Racines, at the recommendation of the walking tour. A tiny restaurant specializing in organic wine, it could not have been more perfect. They offered only three "plats du jour" and no one spoke any English. Since I could only translate two of the three dishes on the menu, that's what we selected -- the duck and the lamb, paired with an outstanding house red wine. Lunch was intense, to say the least:

I'm so glad we spent half of our day in this part of the city. Thanks to the wonderful self-guided tour, we avoided the awful tourist mess that I've always associated with it, and instead found so many moments of "le vrai Paris," the true Paris:

Because the weather was so perfect, we decided to walk from lunch to our Lombard ice cream spot, and then on across the river and onto the left bank for more adventures. It was surprisingly quiet for a beautiful June day, but I'm going to attribute that to the fact that most of Paris retail is closed on Mondays.

That's not to say that EVERYTHING is closed. Here I am with my newly acquired "jaunty chapeau."

Schmoopy bridge photo: the 2010 edition.

Somewhere on the left bank, a cat is so over this menu.

Scott peruses the biographies at the insanely fabulous Shakespeare & Co. before almost buying a scientific exploration of black holes. (I know.) The exchange rate may have improved, but not enough to justify buying an English language book in Europe when you can get the same thing for 50% off on Amazon.

Eight hours after we left our apartment, our feet and legs decided they no longer wanted to engage in forward motion. And so, back home to the Marais we trudged, with the promise of hot dogs and Malteasers carrying us along.

Also? For the equivalent of $5 at the grocery store, we purchased an entire bottle of decent Bordeaux and this enormous jug of beer. It claims to be the "Grand Beer of the Alsatians," but let's see what Scott thinks, shall we?

I think that's the worst picture of me ever taken is what I think. I also think that while "Grand Beer of the Alsatians" is hyperbolic at best, it's eminently drinkable and shit it was only 1.5 euros and it's not friggin' 1664 FOR ONCE. Also, let's face it: there are several nations in Europe known for their outstanding beers. France is not one of them. I've ratcheted my standards down accordingly.

There's a vast swath of walking between the colorful bar in Montmarte and the city passages where we enjoyed easily one of the best meals evar, but that's more a tale of just seeing the city shift from tourist to commercial, from old to modern. Personally, I'd like to explore the modern parts of the rue Montmarte, but suffice to say my interest in new and exciting areas of Paris is piqued.

More than that? It was just a lovely, pitch-perfect day; exactly the sort you're supposed to have on a marvelous Parisian honeymoon.

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